McIlroy has softened his stance on LIV Golf and says he has accepted it as ‘part of our sport now’.
Rory McIlroy says if LIV Golf was modelled like cricket’s Indian Premier League (IPL) and staged over two months, then he would consider playing in it.
The 34-year-old Northern Irishman has been a vocal opponent of the Saudi Arabia-funded LIV Golf, once saying he would retire rather than play in it “if it was the last place to play golf on earth”.
However, he has toned it down of late – especially after his friend, fellow Ryder Cup star and formerly a stringent critic of LIV Jon Rahm decamped and is reportedly set to earn upwards of $566.4m.
Attracting some of world cricket’s top stars with bumper salaries, the IPL helped make Twenty20 hugely popular, attracting hundreds of millions of viewers.
LIV’s circuit is based around team events with its 48 players split into 12 teams.
“I would love LIV to turn into the IPL of golf,” McIlroy told the Stick to Football Podcast.
“They take two months of calendar. You go and do this team stuff and a bit different and is a different format.
“If they were to do something like that I would say ‘yeah that sounds like fun’ because you are working within the ecosystem.”
McIlroy previously accused some of those who jumped ship as being duplicitous, but he is beginning to mellow and says it is no longer his job to fight the battle.
“I think at this point, I was maybe a little judgmental of the guys who went to LIV golf at the start, and I think it was a bit of a mistake on my part because I now realise that not everyone is in my position or in Tiger Wood’s position,” the former world number one said.
“We all turn professional to make a living playing the sports that we do, and I think that’s what I realised over the last two years. I can’t judge people for making that decision.”
‘Part of our sport now’
McIlroy said he had “accepted” that LIV is “part of our sport now”, but he takes issue with the huge sums being paid to players when that could be used to invest in the sport.
“The thing I have come to realise is if you have got people, or a sovereign wealth fund, wanting to spend money in your sport – that is ultimately a good thing,” McIlroy said.
“But you just want to get them to spend it the right way and spend it on things that are important in the game.
“Instead of giving someone $100m, why don’t you put $50m into grassroots programmes for the R&A or USPGA? Spending that money to actually grow the game and not just buy talent would be a way better way.”
The four-time major winner said he hoped the divisions sparked by the breakaway would be healed but he feared there was a lack of will to do so.
“I hope everyone comes back together,” he said.
“You have got guys on both sides that don’t want it to happen.
“The LIV guys don’t want to come back to play on the PGA Tour because they don’t think they have been treated very well.
“Some of the PGA Tour guys don’t want to see those other guys.
“People need to put their egos and feelings aside and come back together and we all move forward because that would be a good thing for golf.”